Day 1: Australia –– Osaka
Take an international flight from Australia to Osaka via a connecting city.
Please note: some flights may depart one day later.
Day 2: Osaka
On arrival in Osaka, your friendly tour guide will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to your hotel.
Day 3: Osaka – Nara – Osaka – Amagasaki (B, D)
This morning we travel to Kasuga-Taisha Shrine – A UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Nara’s most celebrated shrine. The interior is famous for its many bronze and stone lanterns that lead up to the shrine. Next, we visit Todaiji Temple (Great Eastern Temple), with its Great Buddha Hall – the world’s largest wooden building. This impressive building houses a huge 15m tall bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. We then wander through Nara Park, where over 1,200 tame sika deer roam freely. Later we head to Namba and Dotonbori area in the city’s South encompasses premier shopping districts, restaurants and bars. We then move on to something more modern – the Umeda Sky Building Floating Observatory, which provides an unparalleled elevated views of Osaka. The viewing platform is suspended between two 40-story towers, at 173 metres above the city streets. Tonight you will enjoy a dinner buffet at the hotel with your fellow travellers.
Day 4: Amagasaki – Himeji – Kurashiki – Hiroshima (B)
Today we travel to Himeji Castle, which is the largest surviving example of a traditional Japanese castle. Comprising 83 buildings, the white roof of this UNESCO-registered complex is said to evoke the wings of a heron taking flight – hence the popular name ‘Shirasagi-jō’ – White Heron Castle. In 1945 an American firebomb was dropped into the top floor of the keep, but didn’t ignite, and the castle was renovated in 1956. Himeji Castle is the most visited in Japan, and the site offers some wonderful views of surrounding Himeji city. Later we travel to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter located in Okayama prefecture, known for its traditional historic buildings situated along a picturesque canal.
Day 5: Hiroshima – Miyajima – Hiroshima – Amagasaki (B)
Today we travel by ferry to Miyajima – a small island in Hiroshima Bay known for its forests and ancient temples. Here we will visit Itsukushima Shrine a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its floating torii gate. We head back to Hiroshima to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome, which commemorates the victims of the atomic bomb explosion in World War II.
Note: The floating torii gate is currently under renovation, a date for the completion of the renovation works has not yet been advised. You will still be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine.
Day 6: Amagasaki – Kyoto – Amagasaki (B)
This morning, we visit Kinkakuji: Golden Pavilion. This is a Zen temple and World Heritage Site with two floors covered entirely in thin layers of pure gold, set within a beautiful classical Zen garden. The detailed architecture incorporates three distinct architectural styles – Shinden, Samurai, and Zen. Next, we get a taste of Kyoto by visiting Nishiki Market located in downtown Kyoto. Try local specialties while walking down a five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Then we head to Gion also known as Geisha district. Delve into Kyoto’s rich history while admiring the beautifully preserved architecture and traditional customs. Lastly, we visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine – famous for the magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills making it one of the most popular shrines in Japan.
Day 7: Amagasaki – Kanazawa (B)
Our first stop today is Omicho Market located in Kanazawa. Known as Kanazawa’s Kitchen, it is a colourful and bustling fresh food market with over 200 shops and stalls. Next we visit Nomura Clan Samurai House, the historic residence of the Nomura Samurai clan. The house and grounds provide an insight into the lifestyle of the Samurai class during the 16th-19th centuries, and feature beautiful architecture, gardens, and décor such as painted screen doors. We also visit Kenrokuen Garden – one of Japan’s top three landscape gardens. Developed over 200 years ago, starting in 1620, the garden contains almost 9000 trees and 200 plant species.
Day 8: Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama – Matsumoto (B)
Today we travel to Shirakawago Village, a World Heritage Site where 114 Gassho-style houses with steeply-pitched roofs in the shape of a triangle. Built many hundreds of years ago, these historic houses stand together in a beautiful natural setting. Enjoy some free time to explore the sights at Shirakawago observation deck (approx. 10 min by foot), where you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic views of Shirakawago. Next, we head to Kami-Sannomachi Street also called Takayama Old Town, a wonderfully well-preserved slice of old Japan, with houses and shops dating back to the Edo period (1600-1868). It is well known for its charming architecture, unique cafes and old saké breweries famous for some of the best tasting saké in Japan.
Day 9: Matsumoto – Mount Fuji – Tokyo (B)
This morning we will visit Matsumoto Castle, also known as ‘Crow Castle’ due to its dramatic black exterior. The keep, or “tenshu”, completed around 1593, is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. Then we head to Arakurayama Sengen Park where the instagram-famous Chureito Pagoda is located. Witness the breathtaking view of Chureito Pagoda* back dropped by the iconic snow-capped Mount Fuji*. Later we visit Oshino Hakkai. Known as the springs of Mount Fuji, it’s a small village with a scenic view of Mount Fuji*. The eight crystal clear ponds are fed by melting snow filtering down from the slopes of nearby Mount Fuji, through porous layers of lava, resulting in the finest clear spring water that is revered by locals. Here you will also find many restaurants, souvenir shops and food vendors around the ponds.
Note*: The visibility of Mount Fuji is subject to weather. In mid-March the parking lot at Chureito Pagoda will be closed off and you will need to walk up the stairs (approx. 398 steps) to see Chureito Pagoda. Alternatively you may explore Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine if you do not wish to walk up the steps.
Day 10: Tokyo – Kamakura – Yokohama – Tokyo (B)
Today we visit the incredible Daibutsu (Great Buddha) at Kotoku-in Temple located in Kamakura. Constructed in 1252 and once covered in gold, the bronze Great Buddha is an impressive sight. This is followed by Komachi-Dori Shopping Street, a fashionable street located in the middle of the ancient city of Kamakura. Next we head to Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, a historical building erected a century ago as customs buildings for Yokohama Port. The two warehouses survived the 1923 Kanto earthquake, and remained unscathed from World War II thanks to its iron reinforcements. Building No.2 is now home to a number of shops, bars and restaurants, while building No. 1 is used for a wide range of events, exhibitions, fashion shows and concerts.
Day 11: Tokyo (B)
Enjoy a free day of leisure in Tokyo. You may join our guided World Heritage Nikko Day Tour (additional cost applies) or visit Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea (additional cost applies).
Optional Tour: World Heritage Guided Nikko Day Tour ($290pp incl. lunch)
Enhance your experience in this World Heritage Nikko Day Tour by coach. Nikko is a major centre for Buddhism and the Shinto religion. It is located in a valley and surrounded by beautiful deciduous forests and majestic waterfalls. Feast your eyes upon breathtaking countryside, sacred shrines, and stunning temples as you explore Nikko. Visit Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site dedicated to Shinto worship, well known for its distinctive architecture made up of a large number of wood carvings and gold leaf decorations on the buildings. Absorb the natural splendor of Lake Chuzenji created by an eruption of Mt. Nantai, a symbol of Nikko. We also visit Kegon Falls known as one of Japan’s 3 great waterfalls, Kegon Falls towers an impressive 97 meters and gushes water from Lake Chuzenji. Please note – day tour is subject to minimum 10 passengers.
Day 12: Tokyo (B,D)
This morning we visit Tokyo Sky Tree, the landmark of Tokyo. Opening in May 2012, the Skytree is a television and radio broadcast site, and contains a restaurant and two viewing platforms. At 634 metres, this is the 2nd-tallest structure in the world! Next we visit Senso-ji Temple located in Asakusa. This is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Later we take a stroll to Nakamise Shopping Street, a centuries-old promenade of shops selling traditional snacks and souvenirs like kimonos and bottles of saké. We then visit Imperial Palace Plaza, the residence for the Japanese Imperial Family. The inner grounds of the palace are not open to the public but you can enjoy the natural scenery surrounding the palace grounds, including the Lotus Moat and Nijubashi (double Bridge). The next stop is Odaiba, a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Built as an island fortress in the 19th century, Odaiba will be a venue location for the 2020 Olympic Games, and is already a popular leisure and sightseeing area. Tonight you will enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant with your fellow travellers.
Day 13: Tokyo –– Australia (B)
After breakfast transfer to Tokyo airport by airport bus transfer service for your flight home via a connecting city.
Day 14: Australia
Arrive back in Australia today.